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BCNA News 13 Nov 2018

Victorian Election Campaign

Victorians will go to the polls on Saturday 24 November to vote in a State election.

BCNA has been following election announcements by the two major parties – Labor and the Coalition (Liberal and National) – that may affect Victorians diagnosed with breast cancer.

Car parking at hospitals

The cost of parking at hospitals is a significant issue for many people visiting a hospital for cancer treatment. A 2016 Cancer Council Victoria investigation of parking at 53 Victorian hospitals found that the cost of parking and not enough parking places were the most frequently reported problems. Parking at a metropolitan hospital for a person having treatment for breast cancer was estimated at over $1,100 per year.

The Coalition has promised $40 million to provide an extra 125,000 subsidised car parks each year. The Coalition has also promised to roll out a concession eligibility policy to provide cheaper parking for people who:

  • Have a Federal Government concession or health care card
  • Are long-term patients
  • Need to visit the hospital more than twice a week
  • Are facing financial hardship.

The Coalition has promised to ensure that these concessional rates are well publicised so people are aware of them.

The Coalition has also promised to freeze maximum daily car parking rates at hospitals to stop any increases for the next two years.

Support for rural and regional Victorians

Patient Transport Assistance Scheme

The Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS) provides financial assistance for people living in rural and regional parts of Victoria who have to travel long distances for treatment (more than 100kms one way or 500 kms per week). Around 30,000 Victorians use the scheme.

The Coalition has promised to increase funding for VPTAS by $35.1 million to raise the reimbursement rates for accommodation and mileage, provide additional funding to cover future population growth in regional cities and towns, and speed up processing times for claims.

Under the Coalition, accommodation rates will increase from $45 to $60 per night, and mileage from 21 cents to 25 cents per kilometre.

Access to medical specialists

The Labor Party has promised to provide an extra 40,000 specialist outpatient appointments to allow rural and regional Victorians with cancer to see a publicly-funded medical specialist closer to home.

Labor has also promised to:

  • Place more paramedics and 1,100 additional nurses in regional Victoria
  • Establish a registry so that regional GPs can easily find up-to-date information on hospital waiting lists for their patients
  • Invest $675 million to build and upgrade 10 community hospitals across the state, including:
  1. New hospitals at Whittlesea, Eltham, Point Cook and Fishermans Bend.
  2. Upgrading existing hospitals at Craigieburn, Cranbourne, Pakenham, Philip Island, Sunbury and Torquay
  3. Provide a new oncology ward and oncology day clinic at Frankston Hospital.

IVF treatment

Breast cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy, can reduce a woman’s fertility, making it difficult for her to conceive a baby naturally after treatment. Often young women will rely on assisted reproductive treatments such as IVF to have a baby.

The Labor Party has committed $32 million to set up and run low-fee, bulk-billing IVF clinics in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Currently, there is only one bulk-billing IVF clinic in Victoria.

Palliative care

The Coalition has committed $140 million to expand community-based palliative care services to support people who wish to spend their final days at home.

BCNA’s response

BCNA is pleased to see that both parties recognise the challenges of having to travel for treatment. We know this is a significant issue for our rural and regional members especially.

We are calling on the Labor Party to match the Coalition’s commitments on hospital parking and VPTAS.

We are also writing to the Victorian Health Minister and Shadow Health Minister seeking from them a commitment to improving access to lymphoedema treatment and compression garments. Our State of the Nation report identified gaps in lymphoedema information and treatment as a major issue right across Australia. The Report lists as a priority for action:

Establish specialist lymphoedema clinics in all metropolitan and regional cancer centres and fund a National Lymphoedema Compression Garment Scheme

BCNA will continue to monitor election announcements and update this page.